Mount Tamalpais

Marin County – Day 5

25.9 km, 959m elevation 

– started at Stinson Beach 

– hiked up through redwood forest and along an old railway road

– lots of little lizards lurking about

– awesome views of the bay and the city

– snacked and rested on the East Peak

– long gradual run down, then many zigzags through the forest 

– dipped our tired in the cold ocean and stretched on the beach  





Exploring Bodega Bay

Marin County – Day 4

– walked around Bodega Head, spotted some grey whales, and walked to Horseshoe Cove lookout 

– drove up the coast and stopped at a few beach/cliff lookouts

– walked along the beach to where the Russian River meets the Pacific Ocean and saw several seals in the water 

– awesome seafood dinner at The River’s End overlooking the water before sunset

– drive to a cliff lookout to watch the sunset  





Point Reyes National Seashore – part 2

Marin County – Day 3

19.58 km, 600m of elevation 

– beautiful coastal trail 

– decended to the Alymere Falls along an unmarked, but frequented trail

– beautiful layered falls and interesting descent through a sandy and rocky edge

– walked along the beach and enjoyed a rest stop near the falls

– headed back up to the coastal trail and did another short loop to gain even better sunny ocean views before returning to the trail head 









Point Reyes National Seashore – part 1

Marin County – Day 2

20.6 km, 400m of elevation 

– took a wide forested trail towards the water

– unfortunately the trail towards Arch Rock had recently collapsed, so we headed up the coast to enjoy the scenery

– descended stairs to a beautiful beach with a waterfall 

– climbed back up and took the trail to Mount Wittenberg, the tallest point in the park

– ran down through the trees and enjoyed touring the horse exhibits by the visitor centre 








Exploring Marin County, North of San Francisco

March 21, 2015

Golden Gate National Park
The Coastal Trail and Hill 88 Loop – 9 km, 351m of elevation

– headed across the Golden Gate Bridge
– traffic similar to that of Vancouver
– beautiful scenery into the park once crossing the bridge
– artists, surfers, families, dogs lined Rodeo Beach
– then the fog quickly rolled in and stayed
– we still had a great run, exploring old WW2 military remains and buildings and Hill 88
– interesting views once we got above the clouds/fog and when driving out of the park














Great Things About Sweden

– Star Trek-like toilets on some daytime trains
– Bus drivers that also act as tour guides offering information (in Swedish, unless we are the only passengers) along the way via microphone
– Frequent and specific recycling bins, even in the mountains
– Lockers at grocery stores, where we got special permission to leave our bags during our hike in the High Coast
– Everyone speaks English well and is patient and willing to help
– Overnight trains: small Ikea-like compartments allowing a comfortable sleep and effective organization of belongings while covering great distances
– Breakfast foods: cold meats, cheeses, yogurt, seeds, sometimes eggs and shrimp
– Timely public transportation: ferries, buses, trains, airports (23 minute turn around time in Kiruna (exit and board from the front and rear of the plane))
– Pick/get a number system for service in stores, restaurants, customer service etc…
– Airport waiting rooms also have a bright, organized Ikea feel to them
– Extensive hiking trails with great mountain huts/stations which have hot showers and saunas and provide full meals








The Fjällräven Classic

August 9-13, 2014

After our overnight train ride we met up with Brenda and Kirk. It was great to spend time catching up while waiting for the bus, with hundreds of other backpackers keen to head north to Kiruna, the gateway town for the start of the “race.”

After a long 5.5 hour bus ride, we finally arrived and then caught another bus to Nikkaluokta. Here we checked in for the race and into our cabin before having a nice moose roast dinner.

Day 1
9:00 am start at Nikkaluokta
Cloudy in the morning, sunny and warm in the afternoon
19 km fairly flat hiking towards mountain views
Reindeer burger snack at 5km
Checkpoint and lunch break: Kebnekaise Mountain Lodge
Continued another 2-3 km upward to set up tent on a beautiful ridge above the river
Great mountain views at our fairly private spot

Day 2
Cloudy day, windy at times making it cool, some sun in the afternoon
Hiked 12km to Singi checkpoint
Surprise snack: reindeer pita with mashed potatoes and lingonberry
Continued 12.5km to Sälka (another checkpoint)
Set up tent along a river, “tent city” on both sides of the mountain hut
Nice valley views
Very stinky outhouses

Day 3
Andy’s birthday!
Picked up more meals and fuel at Sälka before heading off
Warm sunny day, windy in the afternoon
Clear views of mountains
Most elevation of the trek in the morning, going over a pass and highest point of the trek
Hiked 14km to Tjäkta checkpoint
Surprise snack: carrot cupcake and tea/coffee
Continued 11km towards Alesjaure
Set up tent on a grassy hill near a river with nice valley views

Day 4
Hiked 1km to Alesjaure checkpoint
Grabbed a cinnamon bun and coffee
Cloudy, cool day. Rain, winds, and then heavy rain later in the day
Hiked 18km to Kieron checkpoint
Surprise snack: warm crepes with whipped cream and jam
Contined 3km into Abisko National Park
Set up tent at the designated camp site, in the rain, amongst many other wet tents and hikers

Day 5
Cloudy day with some rain
Packed up wet tent and gear
Hiked 13km to Abisko
Surprise snack with 5km left – “flapjack” bar
Finished the trek at about 13:00
A personal greater gave us lingonberry juice, a gold medal, and a badge (black for our first event).
After sorting our recycling, trash, fuel cans and unused meals we enjoyed a reindeer pita at the Trekkers Inn event tent. We then checked into our two bedroom cabin where we relaxed for a couple days.

Our results:
110 km in 100 hours and 10 minutes.
(Andy finds the extra 10 minutes very frustrating.)

Beautiful mountain scenery
Extremely well organized and supported event
Emphasis on enjoying and respecting the environment
Dehydrated meals and fuel provided
Well maintained trail with boardwalks, signage
Andy’s “tapas” idea of sharing three meals at dinner for variety
Toilet tents appreciated
“Real” food snacks provided/available along the way
Very friendly and cooperative participants and volunteers
Staying near the start and finish of the race ensured a less stressful and fun event atmosphere

Long days of walking 20+km
Weather: wind and rain
A very wet day and night 4
Very stinky outhouses
Eating dehydrated meal packs five days in a row (causing negative gassy effects for us all)
Camping four nights in a row (without showers or laundry)




















The High Coast

With only four days in the High Coast we headed straight to the tourist office where a nice young gentleman helped us plan our time to make the most of our short stay in the beautiful area.

Hiking and Camping
We decided to hike part of the High Coast Trail. After taking a bus from Härnosand to Docksta, we hiked just a short 3km to a basic campsite near a nature museum

In the morning, we decided to climb up Skuleberget before it got too hot. This is also a Via Ferrata site (with four routes of varying difficulty going up the face). The lookout provided some great views of the islands. We then had breakfast and packed up the tent and our gear.

The trail was fairly forested which provided welcomed relief from the heat. Unfortunately, much of it was also on gravel road, but we took a nice lunch break at the park entrance.

We spent the rest of the afternoon in Skuleskogens National Park, which is now designated a UNESCO World Heritage site – for the geological phenomenon of the rising coast caused by the release of pressure as the ice melts (“isostatic uplift”).

A challenging walk up boardwalks, rocks, boulders, and large roots lead us to an impressively large crevasse called Slottdalsskrevan and a terrific look out point.

We then made our way down towards the east coast of the park towards the designated camping area on the island
Tärnättholmarna. Unfortunately, the stream from which we were planning on gathering our drinking and cooking water from was all dried out due to the hot and dry weather over the last month. After already hiking 18km, the idea of walking another 3km to a different camping area where we heard there was water was not thrilling. We left our packs and ended up finding a stream with a slow trickle. We filled up a water jug that we borrowed from one if the nearby open cabins. Although the water was a brownish-yellow, we were confident that with extra boiling it would keep us hydrated and fed. Our quiet shady island campsite had a lovely view off a sandy beach which definitely made up for the water fiasco!

The following morning we walked north along the coast leaving the national park. Another 7km on road through a village led us to Köpmanholmen, where we grabbed some groceries and caught a ferry over to the largest island in the High Coast.

Island Relaxing
Ulvön’s harbour is very picturesque, lined with cottage-like boat houses. We stayed in a quaint lakeside cottage uphill from the main road. This provided a great opportunity for laundry and gear organizing. The café and small beaches were beautiful areas for relaxing and we appreciated the quiet and slow pace of the island.














Hiking in the Jämtland Mountains

Day 1: Storulvån to Blåhammaren
The scenery on our first hike was lovely with grassy and rocky hills. The trail was wide with enough rocks to have to watch your footing and gradually sloped uphill. A little chilled by the strong winds, we completed the 12km distance quickly.

The mountain station was very well equipped. We welcomed a hot shower, however we were unaccostomed to the communal shower experience, common in Swedish culture. The dinner was exceptional: salad bar, and then a three course meal (goat cheese appetizer, arctic char, chocolate mousse). We slept in a dorm room of 14 beds, accompanied by two dogs in the next room (and the ear plugs were nowhere to be found).

Day 2: Blåhammaren to Storerikvollen
Similar trail during this 16km hike lead us gradually down hill, where the first trees of the region appeared. It poured for a short time half way through, just as we were crossing the Norwegian border, which forced us to put on full rain gear. Then the storm clouds in the distance seemed to gather around us. We ate lunch on top of a mound before the rain came. After waiting for the thunder and lighting to move further away from where we were heading, we charged on through many muddy puddles as the rain continued.

Our living arrangements were a little more comfortable with a four-person room and semi-communal shower. We a traditional Norwegian meal of mushroom soup, moose, roasted potatoes, vegetables, jello custard and cake for dinner.

Day 3: Storerikvollen to Sylarna
We were thankful that our shoes and rain gear had dried over night as we headed out around part of a large lake on boardwalk trail. We saw a herd of eight reindeer as we gradually hiked up hill. It was very muddy at times and the wind was strong again. We stopped for a lunch break in the emergency centre at the top of the hill. We then reentered Sweden and continued beside the grassy fells. This route was less common among hikers and just as it was starting to feel a little long, a beautiful glacier appeared to our left, as well as the mountain station where we would be staying.

For our last night we were happy that the shower arrangements were private and we had a private room. Dinner was self-catering, so we purchased bacon and eggs at the mini store inside the hut and used one of the many kitchen areas to prepare our meal.

Day 4: Sylarna to Storulvån
A very sunny morning greated us, as we headed out for our last 16km. This time, the strong winds were more at our backs, as well as the view of the glacier. A couple of reindeer trotted parallel to us as we hiked gradually uphill for a few kilometres. We ate our sandwhiches outside a small emergency shelter at the half way point. Storm clouds had started to move in so we started off again quickly. Crossing the valley on boardwalks, rocky trail, and a wobbly suspension bridge, we managed to beat the dark clouds to the finish of our trek (marked by the Swedish knom).

After showering at the main lodge, we enjoyed hot tea at what we dubbed “the finish line café picnic table.” We decided to eat an early dinner before our evening travels. The giant burger and roasted potatoes satisfied our appetite. It was a nice relaxing afternoon before catching the bus and then the train to Sundsvall.












Stockholm, Sweden

July 28-30, 2014

During out first afternoon, we toured the bustling shopping area of central Stockholm, in search of a grocery store and SIM card. We stumbled across a large market square where we bought strawberries, and enjoyed them near a beautiful garden and fountain, before touring the Parliament building.

Yesterday, we explored the old city in the morning. It was quite interesting walking along the narrow cobble stone streets touring the historic sites (cathedrals, royal palace, statues). In the afternoon we went to a museum about the Vasa ship (a vessel that sunk and was under sea 333 years before being recovered and restored).

We spent our last day today on an island called Grinda. After a 1.5 hour ferry, we relaxed at a nice lookout spot and then meandered into the centre of the island where we enjoyed coffees on a beautiful patio overlooking the small harbour. After preparing to go kayaking around the island, a thunderstorm quickly rolled in and it poured rain for quite some time. Luckily we had just bought some picnic snacks that we enjoyed under cover. When the rain subsided, we ventured out on the water and kayaked around the island. We then picked up snacks for the ferry ride back to Stockholm.